There was a time when community organizations were the way in which you met your neighbors, found those with similar beliefs and felt a part of the community at large. Now? Well, if my informal conversations over the past year can stand in as research, a large percentage of people join something to get something.
Why join the JCC? The pool. Why support the public radio station? A sweatshirt and the chance to win a new car. Why become a member of a film organization? Cheaper tickets.
Does your future depend upon beach towels?
The answer more and more is yes. Find a good graphic designer and discover the wonderful world of promotional products.
Why? Because you have to continually increase your donor base to survive. And, while there may be a couple of years when someone only donates to your organization to get a free ticket to an event, that means you have a couple of years to ignite their passion for you and create some very valuable life-long donors.
How do you know who will become a life-long donor and who will remove themselves from your mailing list in a year? There is no way to know. Prospect research can help you determine who has the potential to give large amounts, but it cannot predict whose soul you will touch with your story. So make sure you have a mechanism to follow up with every donor.
If they signed up for a free mug, consider offering a coffee or tea “party” at your organization that is free to anyone who brings their mug. If they signed up for the beach towel, consider a free winter pool party so they can check out your indoor facilities as well. Just make sure you plan to talk about the organization during the event. You want it to be fun, but they will expect a bit of sales pitch and without it, you are squandering opportunities.
Whatever you do, keep creating new “touches” and creating new opportunities for the world to see what an amazing organization you have and donors will follow.